AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The ceasefire decree with ELN is suspended, talks will resume on January 23

Thursday, 5 January 2023 peace   cease-fire   armed groups   local churches  


Bogota (Agenzia Fides) - The Colombian government has decided to suspend throughout the country the decree of December 31 regarding the bilateral ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN). According to information gathered by Fides, the decision, announced yesterday by the Minister of the Interior Alfonso Prada, was taken after the Central Committee of the guerrilla reported in a statement that this measure had not been agreed during the negotiations held in Venezuela at the end of November (see Fides 12/12/2022).
In fact, the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, announced on New Year's Eve the bilateral ceasefire, lasting six months, from January 1 to June 30, signed with five active armed groups in the country: the Army of National Liberation (ELN), the two FARC dissident groups that opposed the 2016 peace agreement (Segunda Marquetalia and Estado Mayor Central), the paramilitaries of the Clan del Golfo (Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) and another paramilitary group, the Self-Defense Forces from Sierra Nevada.
The Colombian Bishops' Conference had expressed its satisfaction with the news, reiterating its commitment to "continue accompanying in this new year all possible and necessary efforts to move towards lasting peace for the beloved Colombian people." Trusting in the positive response of the armed groups, with "a drastic reduction in violence and suffering of the communities affected by the conflict", the Bishops reiterated that "Colombia must resolve the social conflict to resolve the root of the armed conflict". But this has been followed by a communiqué from the guerrillas and the announcement of the suspension of the decree by the government.
The Catholic Church of Colombia has accepted an invitation to participate as a "permanent companion" in the peace talks between the Colombian government and the guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN). The first phase took place in Caracas, in Venezuela
(see Fides, 21/11/2022; 28/11/2022) from November 21 to December 12, and concluded with a five-point agreement. The second phase will take place in Mexico, starting on January 23. The negotiations were interrupted in 2018, when they were held in Cuba, by decision of the then president of Colombia, Iván Duque. The new president, Gustavo Petro, has indicated as the objective of his mandate the achievement of "total peace" in the country, to stop the spiral of violence that followed the Peace Accords signed with the FARC guerrillas in 2016. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 5/1/2023)